The Shawangunks are famous, and for many good reasons. They are close to New York City, boast some amazing stone, are steeped in climbing history, and are incredibly scenic.
What Makes It Great
The rock is a quartz conglomerate, and, in contrast to most traditional climbing areas, forms horizontal rather than vertical cracks. For the roped climber, this means that you’ll be placing gear, but climbing almost sport-style. Routes are 1-3 pitches in length, and the abundance of tiered roofs means that you’ll get some nice exposure even on the easier routes. In fact, High Exposure, at 5.6, is one of the most popular routes in the area. Don’t be surprised to find yourself dangling foot-free on a 5.8!
There is also some world-famous, world class bouldering to be done at the Gunks, and new problems are established all the time. Famous climbers have earned their reputations here, and even John Gill himself put up a few testpieces.
The main cliff, called The Trapps, is where the first climbs were established. It is also the most popular and easy to access. Other cliffs include the Nears and Peterskill. The Trapps is about two miles long, and offers hundreds and hundreds of routes. A gravel carriage road runs along the base, and provides access to the routes as well as the boulders that lie along the base of the cliff.
Rain is always an issue in New England, but the best times to be at the Gunks are the fall and spring. Summer will have you spending most of the day at the swimming hole, and winter will see you cowering against the cold in local coffeeshops. The good news, though, is that the rock dries quickly and even rain in the morning doesn’t preclude climbing in the afternoon.
Who is Going to Love It
Anyone from a beginner to a pro can come to the Gunks, get some incredible exposure, push their limits, and enjoy amazing views.